On the morning of June 19, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation led by Senate Vice-President Gian Marco Centinaio of the Italian Republic. In remarks, President Tsai noted that Taiwan and Italy are very important partners, and have enjoyed close cooperation in various areas. The president stated that Taiwan will establish a representative office in Milan, Italy this year, and that a number of Taiwanese companies have announced their intention to expand their investments and establish factories in Italy. She expressed hope that our two countries will further deepen the bilateral partnership and jointly build resilient supply chains underpinned by democratic values.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
I want to welcome Vice-President Centinaio back to Taiwan. His delegation is the first Italian parliamentary group to visit Taiwan since Italy's new government took office. I want to express my thanks to all of the delegation members for recognizing the importance of, and voicing support for, Taiwan.
This is Mr. Centinaio's first visit to Taiwan in his capacity as vice-president. We also extend a warm welcome to Senator Elena Murelli and her husband, Mr. Davide Bertonazzi, who are here to gain a deeper understanding of Taiwan.
Taiwan and Italy are very important partners, and have enjoyed close cooperation in various areas. We are deeply concerned about the catastrophic flooding in northern Italy last month, and we would like to express our sincerest sympathy for those affected.
We also look forward to further deepening the partnership between Taiwan and Italy. Just this April, we announced that we will be opening the Milan Office of the Taipei Representative Office in Italy this year. A number of Taiwanese companies have announced their intention to expand their investments and establish factories in Italy. Taiwan, Italy, and the EU each possesses strengths in the field of semiconductors and the high-tech industry. We look forward to advancing our cooperation in these areas and jointly building resilient supply chains underpinned by democratic values.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Italy for its support of Taiwan. Last year, the Italian parliament passed three separate resolutions underscoring the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and calling for Taiwan's international participation. We have seen Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani reiterate, on numerous occasions, his support for maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. And we have also seen Italy send naval vessels, showing through concrete actions their support for ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
During a previous visit to Taiwan, Vice-President Centinaio said that democracy and freedom should not be negotiated or compromised. I very much agree with his statement. We hope in the future to work alongside Italy and many more democratic partners to uphold regional stability and prosperity.
I know that your delegation has visited Hsinchu, Yilan, and Tainan over the past few days. I hope that you are able to share more of your experiences in Taiwan upon your return to Italy. A new Taipei-Milan route began service last year, making interaction between Italy and Taiwan even more convenient. We welcome more of our friends from Italy to visit Taiwan. And we look forward to more frequent visits from today's guests. Let's continue working together to bolster exchanges between Taiwan and Italy.
Vice-President Centinaio then delivered remarks, thanking Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for arranging for his delegation to meet with government agencies in Taiwan and providing them opportunities for political and economic exchanges. He said that this being his third visit to Taiwan, he is very pleased to see that Taiwan still has so much more to see and discover, and that he plans to visit Taiwan again in the future.
Vice-President Centinaio noted that Taiwan and Italy enjoy a warm friendship and have a very important cooperative relationship. He said he hopes that the relationship will not be limited to economics alone, but will extend to cultural matters and – to a certain degree – to political relations. He also thanked the Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office in Taipei for the hard work it has done to familiarize Italian companies with Taiwan and help them engage in exchanges with Taiwanese companies. He further expressed appreciation to the Taipei Representative Office in Italy for sparing no effort to promote relations between Taiwan and Italy.
Vice-President Centinaio agreed that Taiwan's opening of the Milan Office of the Taipei Representative Office in Italy was an important step. He noted that Milan is the economic capital of Italy and that the availability of direct flights between Taipei and Milan opens up possibilities for all sorts of bilateral exchanges, including in economics and tourism.
Vice-President Centinaio stated that Taiwan is a democratic nation and that, for Italy, the representatives of a democratic nation are friends with which Italy can engage in dialogue as equals. He said that he has seen the efforts the Taiwan government has made both at home and on the international stage, and that these efforts have been recognized not only by Italy's foreign minister, but also by the European Union and by friends who have recently visited Taiwan. These shows of support make it clear, he said, that Taiwan is a friend of the entire world, and naturally, of Italy.
Vice-President Centinaio indicated that Italy will work alongside the government of Taiwan. He noted that the G7 countries have publicly expressed hope for maintaining the peaceful status quo in the Taiwan Strait. He added that Italy hopes the democratic form of government will not only be maintained in the east, but that it will bear fruit throughout the world and strengthen the democratic alliance across the globe.
Vice-President Centinaio thanked the people of Taiwan for extending a helping hand by donating face masks and other medical supplies to Italy when his country was experiencing difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Italy, he added, has not forgotten these friendly gestures. In addition, after Venice and other parts of northeast Italy were hit by severe floods in 2019 and 2020, Taiwan was one of just a few countries around the world that rushed to Italy's aid. All of this remains in their memory, he said.
In closing, Vice President Centinaio thanked President Tsai for her warm hospitality and expressed hope for an enduring friendship between Taiwan and Italy, with continued economic, social, cultural, and technological exchanges. On the international stage, he added, Italy will continue to support Taiwan, as when Italy vigorously sought recognition of Taiwan by the World Health Organization, which Italy believes is Taiwan's right.
The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office in Taipei Representative Davide Giglio.